Good Morning Readers,
Today I want to share the Priorhouse Interview with blogger Liesbet Collaert.
How did this interview come about?
I have been following Liesbet’s blog on and off for a while now and so I wanted to jump on board (pun intended) with the sharing of her new book, a short memoir called Plunge.
Thank you, Yvette, for featuring my life, writing process, and debut travel memoir Plunge on your blog today. I’m looking forward to interacting with your readers!
Question #1: What is your brief bio?
Hello everyone! My name is Liesbet Collaert and I recently published my first book, Plunge – One Woman’s Pursuit of a Life Less Ordinary. I was born and raised in Belgium, where I worked as a teacher until 2003. In that fateful year, I took my passion for traveling westwards, crossed the Atlantic Ocean by plane, and never returned. I was 27.
Eighteen years later, I am still a nomad, with a string of sailing and RVing adventures under my belt. My husband, our 60-pound rescue dog, and I are currently living on the road in a 19ft campervan, exploring North America. Writing became my job as well as my hobby. I translate documents (English and Dutch), create articles, co-edit a Caribbean boating magazine, maintain a blog, take photos, and focus on other writing projects. Because of our unique lifestyle and low expenses, we manage to satisfy our free spirits, minimalistic ideas, few responsibilities, and desire to live on our own terms. Indefinitely.
Question #2: Tell us about the book
It took five years to complete Plunge and self-publish it. Because of our challenging logistics, I could only make good progress when we were “settled” for periods at a time. This means when we were house and pet sitting across the US or when we made effort to sit still at a (free) campground for days. In 2020, I decided to (finally) focus 100% on my book. That’s how it finally saw the light of day.
After two years of writing, my first draft added up to 160K words. Way too many. I revised, incorporated eight beta readers from different backgrounds, and edited the heck out of the manuscript until I reached 88K. The hardest part of the writing process for me, was deciding what to leave in and what to cut. Since the story spans a decade of my life (my tumultuous thirties), there was a lot of choosing and considering to do. The facts that I never took writing classes, English isn’t my native language, and reading books has been low on my priority list added to my insecurities.
Then, last year, I hired a professional editor for a substantial and copy edit, recruited two talented proofreader friends, and my husband as well as I reread the book one more time. I also engaged a professional cover artist. I deemed these steps necessary for the professional appeal and success of Plunge and have no regrets about my “investments.” Figuring out the intricacies of self-publishing was the hardest, most frustrating part of this journey.
Question #3: How is the book doing right now?
My first reaction is “I don’t really know,” because I have nothing to compare it to; this is my first book. But that would be a lie, because things seem to be going really well based on the reactions I have received privately and noticed publicly. Plunge was welcomed with enthusiasm and five-star reviews, read within days of opening the book, and embraced for its unusual voice and raw honesty. Readers have called it “a page turner,” “soul touching,” and “better than Becoming and Born a Crime.”
Plunge was also a #1 new release in multiple categories on Amazon during its first month, eight print magazines have requested a review copy, and one book club (that I know of) read my book as their January selection. Their discussion happened earlier this month and I was excited to take part in a Q&A via Zoom with readers afterwards. So far, I’m pretty happy about the buzz. 😊
Question #4: Why should someone read this book?
Other than to be absorbed and inspired? Because they would like to experience what it’s like to live a life less ordinary, to think outside the box, and to follow your gut. And because they enjoy exploring the world, either from their armchair or in real life. I wrote the book in the present tense to draw the reader in and have her/him come along for the ride, one impulsive move at a time. I incorporated flashbacks and foreshadowing, breaking the story up at crucial periods in my life, so the book reads as a novel.
Plunge is a seamless confluence of travelogue and memoir in which the reader is immersed inside my head as well as inside different cultures, locales, and wildlife interactions. The heading on the back cover of my paperback sums up the book’s essence: “Inspiration for Travelers. Recognition for Couples. Escape for Homebodies.”
Question #5: Give us an interesting fun fact about your book.
It took years – and a list of over 100 titles – before I decided on the main title, Plunge. Choosing the subtitle, One Woman’s Pursuit of a Life Less Ordinary was even more daunting… Again, I boiled it down to about ten final candidates and discussed this with my friends and blog readers. Multiple times. For months, I ran with One Woman’s Journey of Love and Adventure. In true impulsive Liesbet fashion, I changed my mind at the last minute, right before hitting “send” for the email to my cover artist; the email with the final information of the book to create the cover. At that very moment, I changed the subtitle to the one it is now. It wasn’t even on the list. No turning back after that!
Question #6: What’s something you are really good at that few people know about?
Table tennis. Not sure why, as I never took lessons and never play. If I ever have a talent, it might be that. And I can be quite witty, in a sarcastic way. For good or for bad…
Question #7: What do you hope to accomplish with Plunge?
Anyone who gets to know me, reads my blog, or dives into my book will soon realize that I am a woman of few plans, expectations, and requirements. Because of that, I didn’t think much about Plunge other than getting it finished in a professional, appealing, and unique manner and hoping people would like it. By now, two months after its release, I’ve had some time to think about this massive achievement and the impact a book can have on the world. I truly hope I can inspire my readers one way or another, whether it is by showing them a different approach to live, transmitting joy about being in tropical settings, creating an open mind regarding different cultures and locations, instilling moments of relaxation and reflection, or encouraging them to take the plunge and expand their horizons themselves.
Question #8: Can you share the book links for Plunge?
If your curiosity for Plunge is piqued, check out the “look inside” feature on Amazon. This allows you to read the first two chapters of the book for free. Happy reading and if you have any questions, that’s what the comment section is for. 😊
General info on my blog, including purchase links: https://www.roamingabout.com/about-plunge/
- To buy Plunge on Amazon (universal link): www.amzn.com/B08NHP3NHC
- For eBook versions worldwide: https://books2read.com/plungememoir
- For paperback distributors worldwide: https://www.ingramspark.com/how-it-works/distribute
- Reviews on Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/book/show/55848458-plunge-one-woman-s-pursuit-of-a-life-less-ordinary
Thank you again, Yvette, for introducing me and Plunge to your readers and followers!
Thank you, Liesbet. I enjoyed getting to know you a little more as we exchanged info.
My top three takeaways from Plunge:
1) The way Liesbet highlighted the hard work that comes with sailing. Sailing is not for the weak – neither in mind nor body.
2) In Plunge, the reader is able to sail along with the author as she changed and matured – on and off the water. And when she shared about how she visited Lisa Dorenfest (here), I smiled because I have been following Lisa’s global sailing journey since 2015. Small world…
3) The hand-selected photos at the end of the book were cleverly placed there – allowing parts of this short memoir to connect with us with fullness.
Here are a few snippets that connect to my takeaways:
- Have you spent time sailing or is it on your list?
- Have you already read Plunge?
- Any questions for Liesbet?
- Anything else come to mind right now?